PSAT during COVID-19


Shreya Chaudhary, Co-Editor-In-Chief, Staff Writer

My alarm rang at 6:00 AM on October 14th. Just like I had months ago, I woke up, showered, got dressed, ate breakfast, packed my bags, prayed, then slipped into the front seat of my mother’s car.

For the first time in months, I was finally going back to school. 

However, going back wasn’t necessarily how it was before: I had two masks packed in my bag along with a bottle of hand sanitizer. That and my bag only contained a pack of pencils, an assortment of snacks, and a few bottles of water. 

October 14th marked PSAT day.

PSAT is a standardized test issued by CollegeBoard and administered by the school. By taking the test, juniors around the nation can qualify for a special scholarship called National Merit. If you make a high enough score—this year, it was a 219, or about 6-8 questions wrong max—you are called a “National Merit Semifinalist,” and, after filling out paperwork, you can be promoted to a “National Merit Finalist.” Everything between the junior class and access to those scholarships was passing this test.

We exited the car, where I met some of the teachers in the front. After checking my temperature, they gave me a bright orange “Clear for Campus” band.

After many months of not being on campus, it was incredible to see it again. The starts of Keystone’s fall decor appeared, and there were paths marked out and dots marking six feet distances. For the PSAT, the entire junior class was housed in two rooms: half of the students were in Mr. Nydegger’s room and the others were in Mrs. Steinhelper’s room. 

Being in the former half, I entered Mr. Nydegger’s room. All the seats were spaced apart and my seat was in the very back. I was asked to keep my bag inside and only bring in pencils, snacks, and our calculator. I paced around the back. The joy of seeing my classmates in person was clouded by the anticipation for the exam. Can I execute it? I had practiced and studied hard for this exam: all that was left was executing. Will I reap the fruits of the hours of studying I put in? In what felt like no time at all, everyone arrived, and Mr. Nydegger started the instructions, distributed the test, and, soon enough, we embarked on the three-hour testing journey.

Although we ended early, we stayed inside the science building until 1:00. Socially distanced, we all spoke for about an hour with Mr. Nydegger. A few people hung out in Dr. Armentrout’s room across the hall, leaving about ten people and Mr. Nydegger. After that, we all filed out of the science building, a small trickle of people exiting instead of the huge mass of boisterous teens we were last year. 

The group of students, including me, who had just come for the PSAT went to the front whereas the other students continued with their day (lunch and their last two classes).

And, just like that, I was gone by 1:15. About an hour later, I opened my laptop and logged into Dr. Armentrout’s Zoom room.